The Church People-Workers Solidarity wants the Anti-Terrorism Act immediately abolished, saying it will further endanger the human rights of the Filipino people.
In a statement, CWS said with the very vague definition of terrorism in the Anti-Terror Act, anyone could be surveilled, arrested and detained on mere suspicion of being a terrorist or for airing complaints to the government.
“Legitimate protests, strikes and other forms of collective actions by workers demanding just wage, job security, health and safety in the workplace and better working condition can be tagged as a terrorism act under the said law,” read their statement posted on their Facebook page Sunday, July 5.
“Therefore, Anti-Terrorism Law would only heighten the repression of trade unions and basic democratic rights of workers and people to free speech and freedom of assembly,” it further read.
CWS said they have witnessed how existing laws were used to attack workers’ rights to peaceful assembly despite the legality and constitutionality of the said protest actions.
With the passage of the Anti-Terrorism Act and the creation of the so called Anti-Terrorism Council that exercises the powers of both executive and judiciary and determines who is a terrorist and who will be arrested and detained, the group said they are concerned that there will be more trade unionists and workers’ advocate who will be “illegally arrested and detained” because of their stand for workers’ rights.
CWS said in this hard time amid the COVID 19 pandemic, the government should prioritize the basic and urgent needs of the people and not the legislation and passage of a law that suppresses the legitimate outcry of people for universal health care, mass testing, protection of frontliners, humane repatriation of OFW’s, wage subsidy, unemployment benefits, social protection, livelihood of jeepney drivers and respect to human rights and civil liberties.
“In the past four months, workers consistently demanded for social protection measures amidst the serious health crisis. Yet, the government has turned a deaf ear on their demands. Millions of workers did not receive the promised financial assistance which left their families starving and homeless. Tens of thousands of workers lost their jobs due to shutdown of many companies,” the group said.
“This concern should be the priority of the government to be resolved and not the passage of the Anti-Terrorism Act which basically removes hard won rights of workers and people,” added CWS.
“We stressed our call to the government to prioritize the welfare of the Filipino people amidst the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the group.
President Duterte signed into law the Anti-Terrorism Act, Friday.